What: A swish Chinese restaurant set in a Mayfair townhouse. Spread across three floors, MiMi Mei Fair’s look evokes old-world China with the design agency briefed to explore what it would be like to dine in the secret home of a fictional empress called MiMi (Mandarin for ‘secret’). A luxurious menu of carefully prepared Chinese dishes is offered alongside a list of creative cocktails that follow a similar theme to the interior.
Who: MiMi Mei Fair is the third London restaurant for Jamavar and Bombay Bustle founder Samyukta Nair. She has recruited Chinese-Singaporean chef Peter Ho to oversee the kitchen at her first non-Indian restaurant project. Ho has a heavyweight Chinese cooking CV that includes senior roles at Lei Garden in Singapore, My Humble House in Beijing, and London’s own Hakkasan. Ho has also worked at a number of restaurants within Nair’s family’s Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts business, so the pair know each other well.
The vibe: Designed by Fabled Studio and Nair herself, MiMi Mei Fair is eclectic in feel, drawing from multiple influences including the Forbidden Palace of Beijing, ancient folklore and 1920s Shanghai. The ground floor dining area is an art deco affair with dining booths separated with mirrored panels and a striking marble fish scale mosaic floor. The upstairs - meanwhile - is split into two different rooms: the ‘playfully feminine’ Wedgewood blue and coral-accented double-ceilinged Parlour (pictured); and the cosier Library with its illustrated wallpaper and banquettes clad in traditional Chinese fabrics. Underneath the two dining floors is the mirror-walled Moon Bar.
The food: The menu is billed as celebration of ‘China’s rich food heritage’, striking a good balance between Chinese restaurant classics and less obvious dishes. Things kick off with a dozen or so appetisers that include char siu made with Norfolk Black Pork; crispy golden langoustine with périgord truffle; and salt and pepper silken tofu. Prices for this section of the menu are typically around the £16 mark but dishes containing more premium ingredients are considerably more. Following these are a small selection of soups and the restaurants speciality dishes - a whole Peking-style duck and a trio of dishes that utilise live native lobster (steamed with homemade pickled chilli; braised with noodles; and ‘wok-baked’). The duck is £88 and the lobster is charged at £10 per 100g, a pricing policy that’s roughly in line with other top-end Chinese restaurants. Mains are split into seafood, meat and vegetables and tofu, with options including steamed dover sole with pickled chilli; clay pot leg of Welsh lamb with star anise and cinnamon; and crispy mandarin beef with sour hawthorn berries. Prices for these range from the mid twenties up to around £50. The high a la carte prices are tempered with more affordable lunch and pre-theatre menus (£33 for two courses, £38 for three courses) and an £88 six-course tasting menu.
To drink: Cocktails include the Blackmoon with buckwheat sobacha, whey of tofu, amontillado Sherry, duck fat-washed whisky (£14); and the more straight-forward Next of Qin that combines mezcal, Campari, rhubarb and mandarin (£15). The wine list is extensive and not short of options with bottle age. Entry level prices are a heady £53 for whites and £54 for reds, with the list topping out at £3,300 for a bottle of 2008 Petrus. Well, it is Mayfair.
And another thing: MiMi Mei Fair is operating under newly-formed parent company LSL Capital, which was founded by Nair and her father Dinesh. Jamavar and Bombay Bustle have also been brought under the LSL Capital umbrella, having previously been part of Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, which was founded by Nair’s grandfather. Nair is now permanently based in London and is apparently eyeing several further openings for LSL Capital.